I first came across the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum while roaming about Boston back in the early 90’s with some [of my favorite] friends. I don’t remember how we ended up there, or who’s idea it was to go in… but from the moment I caught a glimpse of the magical botanical courtyard, I knew I must tell others about it… and I knew I must someday return here. Specifically (and secretly), I hoped I would return with someone I love. You know…maybe with a husband or something.
Fast forward 20 years to last weekend…just having met what they call middle age… and I was finally making it back for a visit. I was bringing someone I love too, which was cool. (-: My husband doesn’t much think about art and such things, but he made the two hour trip to Boston with me for my recent birthday. Once in the city, we found free rock-star parking only one block away (and not in a tow zone!). After taking a quick photo or two (or three…) out front, we found ourselves walking past the giant iron gates, through the “whimsical meets Gothic” doors and into a dimly lit corridor. We were greeted by a friendly guard, and the grand four story courtyard… and showered by the most delicate light. It was just as breathtaking as the first time i saw it. It was better than i even remembered it to be. I knew I was having a moment…I was pretty sure that we were having a moment.
[Although my husband would say his moment came later when we were having beer and bacon burgers]
We made our way through shadowy corridors and up marble staircases (butt workout…bonus!), around each corner greeted by a different viewing room, all with walls of vibrant colors, vintage leathers and fabrics, and all with brilliantly framed views of the courtyard. Each room was filled to the brim with art and treasures from all around the world. There were brief, but foot-stomping-temper-tantrum-make-me-so-stinking-mad reminders of the mysteriously stolen Rembrandts and Degas drawings (amongst works by other masters that some loser walked off with). Every nook and cranny, every tile in the wall, every window, every piece of furniture – it all had a story to tell. This was Isabella’s collection. Her collection that she decided she wanted to share with all of us. How lucky i felt to be standing there, again, on my birthday, with Isabella, and my husband.
For twenty years, whenever someone asks me to close my eyes and envision myself in one of the most beautiful places i have ever been, I am immediately transported to this place. Photography is not permitted inside (bummer), but you can see some sneak peaks if you do a Google search, or go to the official website. Even so, I hope I have inspired someone to travel there someday, or to stop in if just passing through.
Thank You, Isabella!
photo of courtyard : source www.gardnermuseum.org